A Real-Life Recruitment Story You Can Learn From

Working Through a Recruiter as a Job Seeker

Recently a friend of mine shared she had a new job to celebrate.  The hiring process gave her her first experience working with a recruiter and her story is something every HR manager and recruiter could learn from.

My Candidate Story. My Candidate Experience.

I was recently, successfully wooed by a large, international company.  At the time, I had little understanding of the recruiting world aside from what I had picked up from my friend, Jessica Miller-Merrell (you might have heard of her…).  The recruitment process was quite lengthy, in part because I took a bit of a break from the process when I became frustrated with it and also because there wasn’t a lot of reason to forge ahead (ie there was no anticipated opening on the horizon).  As an outsider, my candidate experience could be beneficial – in both learning from many mistakes through the process that almost scared me away and how a savvy recruiter brought me back into the process and inspired me.

My experience in the first half of the process went pretty poorly.  The steps included conference calls, applications, profile assessments, background and credit checks, completion of videos and an online course to provide an understanding of the company.  After all of this is completed, the next step is to pitch a business plan and write an autobiography and present them to a panel during the first interview.  If you manage to get through all of these rigors with flying colors (and can prove you have access to start-up capital to support your venture) then you can actually apply for the opening.


1.)    They didn’t assign a dedicated recruiter:  Either they didn’t have a recruiter at the time or she was very poor at her job.  Considering the aforementioned hoop jumping required to even reaching interview number one, having someone to encourage you, motivate you and help you navigate the jargon and culture is essential.   I felt lost in the process.  Emails were sent and often not answered.  I was confused and felt the system was really built for internal candidates who were immersed in the industry… not for an outsider like me.

2.)    Turnover:  I’m not sure how many people I spoke with in the beginning, but my contact changed at least twice in the process because of reassignments or promotions.  I wasn’t sure what their role was and they seemed not to know that either.

3.)    Quirky technology:  The Company had recently launched a portal system that guided a potential candidate through a learning system.  It appeared very innovative.  It offered videos that attendees had to watch in order to move through the system.  After the videos, there were online courses with built in quizzes.  You could complete an online profile, upload your picture and communicate with other potential candidates and your staff liaison.  It sounded great, but because the system was new, there were a lot of bugs that hindered process completion.

4.)    Boring Employment Videos:  The employment videos were boring.  And long.  And BORING.  I tried to watch them – well, the first one.  In the online system, I was required to watch all of them to gain access to the next module.  The videos were too elementary and there was just too much information and motion graphics.  I played them on my computer in the background while I did other things and didn’t pay attention to more than the first 30 seconds of any of them.  The videos were 10 – 30 minutes in length.

5.)    Not Helping: The final straw in my first round with this company was when I got stuck.  Part of the process was building a business plan with a 6 year revenue projection.  Coming from outside the industry, I had no idea what the product cost or any industry standard information.  When I asked about this information to my staff liaison, he told me that I needed to take initiative and call people working in the industry to learn this information.

Fast forward about a year later.  My husband had battled cancer and was in remission.  My mother had spent time in a coma and ICU, but was finally back at home.  And, I was still at the same job I didn’t want to be at.  A lot of things kept me busy in that year, but the lure of the company and its potential  – despite all the obstacles I wrote above – brought me back.  I sent an email and received a quick response from a different person than I had dealt with before.  She quickly connected me back into the system and set up a phone call.  Soon, she was sending me industry information on pricing, product and standards.

In a turn of events, I felt important.  I felt valued.  I felt confident.


1.)     A recruiter contacted me:  Soon after re-entering the process, the liaison set up a meeting with a recruiter.  She came in from out of town and met me for lunch.  She was amazing and inspiring and we hit it off right away.  She got me excited about the company and what it had to offer.  When I met my recruiter, it was the first time in that entire process I had ever met anyone from the company face to face.

2.)    An opportunity was presented:  My recruiter couldn’t tell me with 100 percent certainty that an opening was going to happen, but she had knowledge that one was very possible.  Knowing that there might be a light at the end of the tunnel gave me the push and incentive to continue the process – and really get moving on it.

3.)    Meetings with current employees:  They provided me with a list of four current employees they wanted me to get to know.  They hand-selected four employees with varying backgrounds and length of service.  This provided me a chance to get to know more about the company in a safe environment while gaining my own mentors.  I continued to email them for advice and to celebrate successes throughout the entire candidate process.

4.)    Prepared me for the interview:  The staff liaison set a phone meeting with me for the sole purpose of interview preparation.  She explained the types of questions that would be asked and what qualities the interview panel would be looking for.  She guided me in how to best answer questions, gave me tips on how to dress and boosted my confidence.  She explained the room set up and told me who would interview me and encouraged me to reach out to them.

5.)    Provided immediate feedback:  After the first interview, the staff liaison called me and helped me understand what the panelists liked and what their concerns were.  I was ultimately approved to be a candidate at this point, but her feedback helped me improve my business plan and prepare for the second round of questions with the next interview.

The Final Word on My Recruitment Story

Ultimately, my recruitment story has a happy ending.  I got offered the position and I took it.  The company’s candidate process was by far the most cumbersome and intense I have ever encountered.  I realize that for this company, a dense filtering process is necessary to ensure they are selecting from only the most qualified candidates.  Having a great recruiter and a staff liaison to guide me through the process, motivate and inspire me, prep me and give me critical feedback was essential for keeping me on track – and ultimately take the job.

Interested in learning more about the candidate experience? Read these article son candidate impression of the ATS and a Q & A with Taylor Grey whose story went viral after she emailed the corporate recruiter to suck her dick. 

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.

Reader Interactions


  1. Jamie says

    Great article – the insider perspective is helpful for understanding the candidate’s side of the story. Thanks for the share.

  2. Geoff says

    I would like to know who to find a recruiter in the first place. I would really like to find one to help me look for that job while I’m working.

    • Ray_anne says

      Just do a search for a “recruiter” on LinkedIn. Your search will yield thousands and thousands…
      You can also just type recruiter in my zip code in the Google Search Bar.


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